Could a greater variety of benefits be the answer to higher engagement and improved wellbeing?


Can a greater number and variety of organisational benefits result in higher levels of employee engagement and wellbeing? In other words, is more better? As wellbeing is a priority for many organisations, it’s an important consideration for reward professionals. But I don’t believe that a greater variety is necessarily the answer. For me, it’s the quality and tailoring of benefits as part of the everyday employee experience that can truly impact employee engagement and wellbeing.

Could a greater variety of benefits be the answer to higher engagement and improved wellbeing?

Engagement is a choice

Leaders can’t demand engagement, like punctuality or following a dress code, but the truth is that engagement, in which employees deeply care about the quality and outcomes of their work, is a choice people make.

Engagement begins in the hearts and minds of employees and to enhance engagement and wellbeing, people need to feel connected to the organisation, its leaders and their peers, and be inspired to perform at their best.

Purpose-driven benefits

Benefits come in all shapes and sizes – cold brew coffee taps, ping pong tables and car-park barbeques. And then there’s the generous annual leave policies, lavish benefit packages and flexible work schedules. All of these things can be enticing, but in isolation they won’t lead to greater engagement or make people care more about their work. Plus, there’s no ‘holy grail’ benefit that will improve wellbeing, even though we’re always looking for new, creative ways to improve employees’ mental health.

Adding even more policies and benefits simply isn’t the solution. While all of these things can add value, it’s easy to forget the most important question: “Why do we ourselves choose to engage or disengage?”

In most cases, how engaged or disengaged a person feels has little to do with the company’s annual leave policy, or that world-class chef in the canteen. Instead, it comes down to each individual’s experiences in the workplace – how they fit into the team, the opportunities they’re given and how appreciated they feel.

An organisation’s portfolio of benefits and rewards must therefore focus on improving the employee experience at a deeper level – helping people to feel recognised for the great work they do, to grow and develop and to feel connected to purpose, their leaders, peers and achievements.

Recognition must come first

At a time when some organisations are actively adding more and more benefits to attract talent while appealing to a diverse workforce, they can too easily overlook the single most important benefit – recognition. Appreciation works hand-in-hand with engagement and employee wellbeing,  helping employees to feel a sense of purpose and opportunity.

According to research by The O.C. Tanner Institute, recognition has a very clear impact on employee wellbeing, for both givers and receivers of recognition. Those who often gave, received, and observed recognition saw an 8.8% increase in wellbeing, while effective recognition yields a 29% increase in work/life balance, a 33% increase in belonging, and a 27% increase in overall self-rated health.

By focusing on how to embed meaningful and tailored recognition moments into the everyday employee experience will alone increase engagement, creating real improvements to employee wellbeing and happiness.

More doesn’t mean better

More variety doesn’t always equate to better. It’s time for reward professionals to assess their portfolio of benefits and decide which are driving deep and meaningful engagement and connections that improve the overall employee experience, rather than providing shallow and transient ‘pick me ups’.

The author is David Danzig, Director at O.C. Tanner Europe.

This article is provided by O.C. Tanner Europe.


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